Moggill, Australia
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Melville D.F.,University of Queensland | O'Brien G.M.,University of New England of Australia | Crichton E.G.,University of Queensland | Theilemann P.,Moggill Koala Hospital | And 2 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2012

Effective contraception would enhance genetic management of captive Pteropus species, which typically breed well in captivity. Male reproductive seasonality was monitored (15-mo interval) in captive P. alecto (6 controls and 5 treated with 4.7 mg deslorelin). In untreated males, there were seasonal changes in testicular volume, body weight and testosterone secretion; testicular volume and body weight peaked in February and March, respectively, whereas testosterone concentration remained >5 ng/ml before rising (P < 0.001) to 24.9 ± 3.6 ng/ml (mean ± SEM) in April. However, there was no corresponding change in sperm quality, and seminal vesicle gland (SVG) secretions remained present in ejaculates. In treated males, testosterone concentration had an initial 'flare' response (mean ± SEM peak: 19.95 ± 3.27 ng/ml) before declining (P < 0.001) by 32 d to basal levels, where it remained. In these males, there was reduced sperm motility after 1 mo (P < 0.001) and the absence of SVG secretions after 4 mo. However, aspermic ejaculates were first recorded 5 mo post-treatment. At 10 mo after treatment, spermatogenesis was still disrupted, when membrane-intact, but non-motile sperm were present in two individuals. Motile sperm were first recovered from one of these males 13 mo after deslorelin treatment. We concluded that captive P. alecto males: (a) had seasonal reproductive changes in testicular volume, body weight and testosterone secretion; (b) produced motile, membrane-intact sperm and SVG secretions throughout the year; and (c) had a rapid decline in testosterone concentration and consequent suppression of testicular function for at least 5 mo following deslorelin administration. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Charlton B.D.,University of Sussex | Frey R.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | McKinnon A.J.,Moggill Koala Hospital | Fritsch G.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | And 2 more authors.
Current Biology | Year: 2013

During the breeding season, male koalas produce 'bellow' vocalisations that are characterised by a continuous series of inhalation and exhalation sections, and an extremely low fundamental frequency (the main acoustic correlate of perceived pitch) [1]. Remarkably, the fundamental frequency (F0) of bellow inhalation sections averages 27.1 Hz (range: 9.8-61.5 Hz [1]), which is 20 times lower than would be expected for an animal weighing 8 kg [2] and more typical of an animal the size of an elephant (Supplemental figure S1A). Here, we demonstrate that koalas use a novel vocal organ to produce their unusually low-pitched mating calls. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Being hit by cars and chlamydia were the top causes of a dramatic rise in south-east Queensland koala deaths over the past two decades, according to a new University of Queensland-led study. UQ School of Veterinary Science's Associate Professor Rachel Allavena and Dr Joerg Henning worked with the Queensland Government's Moggill Koala Hospital to analyse data about koala disease and death from 1997 to 2013. "It's important data collected over the span of the koala population crash," Dr Allavena said. "Populations throughout 'Koala Coast' declined by about 80 per cent over this period, so this iconic and famous species is in real trouble in our area." The senior researchers and PhD student Viviana Gonzalez-Astudillo, determined that at least a quarter of the koalas hit by cars were otherwise in good health, meaning it was healthy, breeding animals that were killed. About half of the population that died over the study period was affected by more than one disease or health problem, including trauma. Chlamydia was particularly devastating for koalas, because of the potential to render females infertile and cause bladder and eye problems, making predator avoidance and food foraging harder. Animal attacks, particularly from dogs, and wasting away from starvation, disease and poor teeth were other prominent causes of koala deaths. Dr Henning said the research team had developed KoalaBASE, a web-based database about koalas coming into care in south-east Queensland facilities. "KoalaBASE enables data input at multiple veterinary centres, and use of the data by multiple stakeholders such as veterinarians, government departments and researchers," Dr Henning said. The UQ researchers hope their data, published in the journal Scientific Reports, will help government agencies, koala groups, and hospitals better target resources to prevention and treatment. Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, which funded the $420,723 research project, provided extensive records of koala admissions at Moggill Koala Hospital to the researchers. "Based on this information and its own research with other koala care facilities, the research team has developed a database which, for the first time, provides accurate scientific information on the specific threats facing south-east Queensland koalas," Dr Miles said. "This is one of several projects funded by the State Government to boost our knowledge and understanding of the threats facing koalas, so we can ensure work to secure viable and healthy koala populations across the state is based on evidence and scientific research." "The Palaszczuk Government takes the protection of the State's much-loved koalas very seriously and has set up a Koala Expert Panel and invested $12.1 million over four years to this cause." The largest prospective mortality study on koalas undertaken - drawing on autopsies of more than 500 koalas that died of natural causes - is also soon to be published by UQ researchers.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: phys.org

UQ School of Veterinary Science's Associate Professor Rachel Allavena and Dr Joerg Henning worked with the Queensland Government's Moggill Koala Hospital to analyse data about koala disease and death from 1997 to 2013. Dr Allavena said the important data had been collected over the span of the koala population crash. "Populations throughout the 'Koala Coast' declined by about 80 per cent over this period, so this iconic and famous species is in real trouble in our area," she said. The senior researchers and PhD student Viviana Gonzalez-Astudillo determined that at least a quarter of the koalas hit by cars were otherwise in good health, meaning it was healthy, breeding animals that were killed. About half of the population that died over the study period was affected by more than one disease or health problem, including trauma. Chlamydia was particularly devastating for koalas, because of the potential to render females infertile and cause bladder and eye problems, making predator avoidance and food foraging harder. Animal attacks, particularly from dogs, and wasting away from starvation, disease and poor teeth were other prominent causes of koala deaths. Dr Henning said the research team had developed KoalaBASE, a web-based database about koalas coming into care in south-east Queensland facilities. "KoalaBASE enables data input at multiple veterinary centres, and use of the data by multiple stakeholders such as veterinarians, government departments and researchers," Dr Henning said. The UQ researchers hope their data, published in the journal Scientific Reports, will help government agencies, koala groups and hospitals better target resources to prevention and treatment. Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, which funded the $420,723 research project, provided extensive records of koala admissions at Moggill Koala Hospital. "Based on this information and its own research with other koala care facilities, the research team has developed a database which, for the first time, provides accurate scientific information on the specific threats facing south-east Queensland koalas," Dr Miles said. "This is one of several projects funded by the State Government to boost our knowledge and understanding of the threats facing koalas, so we can ensure work to secure viable and healthy koala populations across the state is based on evidence and scientific research." "The Palaszczuk Government takes the protection of the State's much-loved koalas very seriously and has set up a Koala Expert Panel and invested $12.1 million over four years to this cause." More information: Viviana Gonzalez-Astudillo et al. Decline causes of Koalas in South East Queensland, Australia: a 17-year retrospective study of mortality and morbidity, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep42587


Charlton B.D.,University of Vienna | Ellis W.A.H.,University of Queensland | McKinnon A.J.,Moggill Koala Hospital | Cowin G.J.,University of Queensland | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2011

Determining the information content of vocal signals and understanding morphological modifications of vocal anatomy are key steps towards revealing the selection pressures acting on a given species' vocal communication system. Here, we used a combination of acoustic and anatomical data to investigate whether male koala bellows provide reliable information on the caller's body size, and to confirm whether male koalas have a permanently descended larynx. Our results indicate that the spectral prominences of male koala bellows are formants (vocal tract resonances), and show that larger males have lower formant spacing. In contrast, no relationship between body size and the fundamental frequency was found. Anatomical investigations revealed that male koalas have a permanently descended larynx: the first example of this in a marsupial. Furthermore, we found a deeply anchored sternothyroid muscle that could allow male koalas to retract their larynx into the thorax. While this would explain the low formant spacing of the exhalation and initial inhalation phases of male bellows, further research will be required to reveal the anatomical basis for the formant spacing of the later inhalation phases, which is predictive of vocal tract lengths of around 50cm (nearly the length of an adult koala's body). Taken together, these findings show that the formant spacing of male koala bellows has the potential to provide receivers with reliable information on the caller's body size, and reveal that vocal adaptations allowing callers to exaggerate (or maximise) the acoustic impression of their size have evolved independently in marsupials and placental mammals. © 2011. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Charlton B.D.,University of Vienna | Ellis W.A.H.,Central Queensland University | Larkin R.,Moggill Koala Hospital | Tecumseh Fitch W.,University of Vienna
Animal Cognition | Year: 2012

Advances in bioacoustics allow us to study the perceptual and functional relevance of individual acoustic parameters. Here, we use re-synthesised male koala bellows and a habituation-dishabituation paradigm to test the hypothesis that male koalas are sensitive to shifts in formant frequencies corresponding to the natural variation in body size between a large and small adult male. We found that males habituated to bellows, in which the formants had been shifted to simulate a large or small male displayed a significant increase in behavioural response (dishabituation) when they were presented with bellows simulating the alternate size variant. The rehabituation control, in which the behavioural response levels returned to that of the last playbacks of the habituation phase, indicates that this was not a chance increase in response levels. Our results provide clear evidence that male koalas perceive and attend to size-related formant information in their own species-specific vocalisations and suggest that formant perception is a widespread ability shared by marsupials and placental mammals, and perhaps by vertebrates more widely. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


Charlton B.D.,University of Vienna | Ellis W.A.H.,University of Queensland | McKinnon A.J.,Moggill Koala Hospital | Brumm J.,Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

The ability to signal individual identity using vocal signals and distinguish between conspecifics based on vocal cues is important in several mammal species. Furthermore, it can be important for receivers to differentiate between callers in reproductive contexts. In this study, we used acoustic analyses to determine whether male koala bellows are individually distinctive and to investigate the relative importance of different acoustic features for coding individuality. We then used a habituation-discrimination paradigm to investigate whether koalas discriminate between the bellow vocalisations of different male callers. Our results show that male koala bellows are highly individualized, and indicate that cues related to vocal tract filtering contribute the most to vocal identity. In addition, we found that male and female koalas habituated to the bellows of a specific male showed a significant dishabituation when they were presented with bellows from a novel male. The significant reduction in behavioural response to a final rehabituation playback shows this was not a chance rebound in response levels. Our findings indicate that male koala bellows are highly individually distinctive and that the identity of male callers is functionally relevant to male and female koalas during the breeding season. We go on to discuss the biological relevance of signalling identity in this species' sexual communication and the potential practical implications of our findings for acoustic monitoring of male population levels. © 2011 Charlton et al.


Henning J.,University of Queensland | Hannon C.,University of Queensland | McKinnon A.,Moggill Koala Hospital | Larkin R.,Moggill Koala Hospital | Allavena R.,University of Queensland
Preventive Veterinary Medicine | Year: 2015

Fractures are a major problem in wild koalas of great veterinary and conservation importance as their occurrence in different locations of the body might result in varying healing success. The aim of this study was to determine the fracture types (defined by location of the fracture) occurring in wild koalas, temporal patterns, possible causes and risk factors of fracture types, and the prognosis for successfully releasing kolas with healed fracture types into the wild. Data from a total of 2031 wild koalas submitted to wildlife hospitals in South-East Queensland, Australia, over a period of 13 years were analysed. Approximately 56.7% of koalas experienced head fractures, 13.4% had torso fractures, 14.9% had limb fractures and 15% had combination fractures. A total of 84.1% of fractures were caused by vehicle collisions, 9.1% by dog attacks, 3.3% by falls from trees, 1.3% by train collisions, 0.2% by livestock trampling and 1.8% due to unknown causes. Multinominal logistic regression was used to identify risk factors (cause of fracture, age category, sex, year, three-year admission period and season of fracture event) by fracture type. The type of fracture was associated with both the cause of the fracture and the season when it occurred: for example torso fractures (compared to combination fractures) were associated with dog attacks (OR = 10.98; 95% CI. 6.03, 20.01) and falls from trees (OR = 4.79; 95% CI. 2.26, 10.19) relative to vehicle collisions. More submissions of koalas with head fractures due to vehicle collisions occurred in spring compared to autumn and winter, coinciding with the breeding season of koalas and increased animal movement. Prognosis for koalas with fractures was poor, with approximately 63.8% of koalas admitted dead on arrival, 34.2% euthanised, and only 2.0% of koalas able to be released. Given this data, further research into mitigation strategies to decrease the risk of fractures and to increase the observed low recovery rate should be considered. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Dreamworld, University of Queensland and Moggill Koala Hospital
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Australian veterinary journal | Year: 2016

Under predicted climate change scenarios, koala distribution in Australia is expected to be adversely affected. Recent studies have attempted to identify suitable habitat, based on models of bioclimatic regions, but to more accurately reflect the thermal tolerance and behavioural adaptations of the various regional populations, the koalas response to periods of heat stress will need to be investigated at the individual animal level.To explore the safety and suitability of temperature-sensitive intra-abdominal implants for monitoring core body temperature in the koala.A temperature-sensitive radio transmitter and thermal iButton data-logger, waxed together as a package, were surgically implanted into the abdominal cavity of four captive koalas. In one animal the implant was tethered and in the other three, it was left free-floating.After 3months, the implants were removed and all four koalas recovered without complications. The tethering of the package in the one koala resulted in minor inflammation and adhesion, so this practice was subsequently abandoned. The free-floating deployments were complication-free and revealed a diurnal body temperature rhythm, with daily ranges of 0.4-2.8C. The minimum recorded body temperature was 34.2C and the maximum was 37.7C. The difference in the readings obtained from the transmitters and iButtons never exceeded 0.3C.The suitability of the surgical approach was confirmed, from both the animal welfare and data collection points of view.


PubMed | University of Queensland and Moggill Koala Hospital
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Preventive veterinary medicine | Year: 2015

Fractures are a major problem in wild koalas of great veterinary and conservation importance as their occurrence in different locations of the body might result in varying healing success. The aim of this study was to determine the fracture types (defined by location of the fracture) occurring in wild koalas, temporal patterns, possible causes and risk factors of fracture types, and the prognosis for successfully releasing kolas with healed fracture types into the wild. Data from a total of 2031 wild koalas submitted to wildlife hospitals in South-East Queensland, Australia, over a period of 13 years were analysed. Approximately 56.7% of koalas experienced head fractures, 13.4% had torso fractures, 14.9% had limb fractures and 15% had combination fractures. A total of 84.1% of fractures were caused by vehicle collisions, 9.1% by dog attacks, 3.3% by falls from trees, 1.3% by train collisions, 0.2% by livestock trampling and 1.8% due to unknown causes. Multinominal logistic regression was used to identify risk factors (cause of fracture, age category, sex, year, three-year admission period and season of fracture event) by fracture type. The type of fracture was associated with both the cause of the fracture and the season when it occurred: for example torso fractures (compared to combination fractures) were associated with dog attacks (OR=10.98; 95% CI6.03, 20.01) and falls from trees (OR=4.79; 95% CI2.26, 10.19) relative to vehicle collisions. More submissions of koalas with head fractures due to vehicle collisions occurred in spring compared to autumn and winter, coinciding with the breeding season of koalas and increased animal movement. Prognosis for koalas with fractures was poor, with approximately 63.8% of koalas admitted dead on arrival, 34.2% euthanised, and only 2.0% of koalas able to be released. Given this data, further research into mitigation strategies to decrease the risk of fractures and to increase the observed low recovery rate should be considered.

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